04 May 2024

Kyren Wilson books World Championship final place with win over David Gilbert

04 May 2024

Kyren Wilson eased into his second World Snooker Championship final after completing a 17-11 win over qualifier David Gilbert at the Crucible.

The 12th seed took three of the four frames required in Saturday’s third session to wrap up a victory that earns him a second crack at the title following his defeat in the 2020 final to Ronnie O’Sullivan.

Five frames in succession in their second session on Friday evening had done the damage as Wilson turned a neck-and-neck clash, that was finely poised at 9-9, into a four-frame advantage he never looked likely to squander.

Gilbert did reduce the deficit to 14-11 with a break of 70 in the opening frame of the day, but after coming off worse in a lengthy safety battle in the next, his fate was effectively sealed.

Wilson punched the air and blew a kiss to his family in the stand after potting the decisive blue and will start a heavy favourite in his second final against either Stuart Bingham or Jak Jones, who complete their last four clash on Saturday evening.

Afterwards, the 32-year-old revealed he has been benefiting from sessions with a hypnotherapist during his run to the final, which comes at the end of a low-key season in which he had just one tour semi-final, at the German Masters, to his name.

“It’s just about emptying your stress bucket,” said Wilson. “We all have things going on that can affect our day-to-day life and it allowed me to go out there and be a little bit freer.

“Our minds are so clogged up with so many different things that don’t need to be there, so if you can just eliminate them and go out and play snooker it makes the game a hell of a lot easier.

“When he (Gilbert) missed a few in the third session I knew I had to hit home. Dave could cue me off the table quite easily, so I knew I had to win that mental battle.”

It was a game effort by Gilbert, the 2019 semi-finalist, who had arrived at the Crucible with few expectations after a period of personal turmoil, and proceeded to win four frames in a row to dump out defending champion Luca Brecel in the opening round.

Gilbert conceded his latest defeat was easier to take than his final frame agony against John Higgins but was still a little aggrieved by the manner of his defeat, blaming bad luck and questioning whether there was “needle” from Wilson.

“Kyren played a lot quicker, it was as if he thought I was crap,” said Gilbert. “I don’t know if there was a bit of needle there. I went to wish him all the best and there wasn’t much of a handshake there.”

I have changed dramatically. Back then if it wasn't quite going right, panic alarms would have gone off, and maybe my game would have deteriorated, but I've gathered the experience and learned a tough lesson

Wilson flatly denied Gilbert’s suggestion, insisting he has “no problem” with his opponent, and looked forward to a final that will be very different to his heavy 2020 defeat to Ronnie O’Sullivan, which was played out in front of an arena just one third full due to Covid regulations.

Since then, Wilson has endured a difficult two years, partly due to injury and illness within his family, but showed no ill effects from last year’s crushing 13-2 loss to John Higgins as he swept aside Dominic Dale, Joe O’Connor then Higgins with relative ease.

“I have changed dramatically,” added Wilson. “Back then if it wasn’t quite going right, panic alarms would have gone off, and maybe my game would have deteriorated, but I’ve gathered the experience and learned a tough lesson.”

Jones established a 13-10 lead over Bingham in the third session of their semi-final, which was curtailed one frame earlier than scheduled due to slow play.

Like Wilson, Jones reeled off five frames in a row to turn a 9-8 deficit into a commanding lead in a laborious and error-strewn affair, in which the average frame time tipped over the 24-minute mark.

Bingham provided the high point of the session by finishing with a flamboyant century, giving himself hope of preventing Jones from becoming the first qualifier to reach the Crucible final since Ding Junhui in 2016.

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